Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Very Old Poem

Source of the woodcut 
 FROM THE BEST OF CARACOA. "The caracoa was a war vessel plying the waters off Mindanao and the Moluccas in the 16th century. The rowers stayed close to the hull, while the warriors stood with their spears on a platform. The poet sat alone at the far end of the boat, manning the rudder. He was neither rower nor warrior, yet he decided where the prow should point. His own thoughts knifed through the immense sea of his solitude, though the waves kept him company. In him was rower and warrior; he himself was a double-decked vessel of grace and irony. He was far back, yet he provided direction. At times the caracoa lost its way. No matter. The sea would still be there, and the shoals would still be duly recorded." 

86 Proof  (The Steersman Sings Before A Skirmish)

I have seen their kind before:
they who kill slowly
with the licking of their tongues.

They flaunt their blades before my wounds;
my bones, their arrows' perfect prey; 
they shape their baits for my curved assault.

Dipping a foot into every pool, kin of rain,
they pick on buds where blood occurs,
hurling laughter at the fork of my root.

Cells explode to cells, my mind's swelling
will not define the theme of skulls, the inner scream;
I am a pearl sleeping in the hymns of boulders.

I drink unknowing where water springs from,
what sap of earth a stone reveals;
their dance are the lamps in my hood of oblivion.

They chant of chrism on the palms of saints,
to salve the tongue, the gleaming cusp of desire,
the tree waiting for a miracle to cleave the land.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tales Of The Toddy Tapper

I JUST FOUND the title for my book. And no, it's not A Portrait of the Artist as a Mangyan. Please don't steal it before I finish my manuscript. (Print: "Recolte du toddy sur le cocotier," The Natural History Museum, London)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Village Circus

PEOPLE RAISE their eyebrows after reading the last paragraph of this story, and poet Parmjit Kaur thought it was flippant, but I don't really mind. I wrote this piece in the eighties, inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Shirley Jackson. It won First Prize in the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards of 1999, and was shortlisted in the Fish Publishing Literary Awards in Durrus, Ireland the same year. It will be included in the anthology Hoard of Thunder: Philippine Short Stories in English, 1990-2008, edited by the great Gemino H. Abad, to be published by the University of the Philippines Press early next year. Credits go to Jose Costa Leite, Alexis Snell, Victoria Weller, Emil Nolde, Kathe Kollwitz, and Mazatl for the woodcuts. Click pop-out for full view.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Third Grade And Dance Classes

SARA'S THIRD GRADE class picture with Mrs. Casale (Click to enlarge and try to find as many Polish surnames as you can), and her ballet and Hip Hop dance classes.